Adaptive Re-use x Mission- Driven Hospitality, 2023

The Ruplal  House, Old Dhaka, Bangladesh

*Winner of the Joan Burt Architect Award, 2023 at OCAD U

Sustenance of ideas, identity and belief is key in Interior Design, achieved through an attempt of interpretation of lives as they synthesize with their environment. On that note, this thesis endeavours to revive an important historic edifice in the slighted scene of architectural conservation in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh, and thus restore the integrity of the land and the community that inhabits it, through mission-driven hospitality.

The Ruplal House, a convex point of architecture, culture and history, lies abandoned, standing still as the world passes it by- a silent and dilapidated witness.

Levee is the reconfiguration of the heritage site to a mixed-use development that offers rehabilitation, recreation & respite by banking on the local resources and exacting exorbitance- so the plenitude of the past empowers the prosperity of today. It is where public, economic and environmental health reconciles with design interventions that have been insofar withheld to truly interweave timbre and timber. It stands with yesterday, it stands for tomorrow.

 Keywords: Interior Design, Adaptive Reuse, Mission-Driven Hospitality

Located on the bank of Buriganga (Old Ganges), the architecture style is one of a kind in the area, second only to the Museum Ahsan Manzil (also known as the Pink Palace for its bright pink exterior). As the site was repurchased and spruced more than once, the architectural styles differ from Corinthian to Classical Palatial, though stand as a cohesive whole. The aspired Tableau addition atop the Ruplal Block is imagined in completely different materials, though anchoring on the core design ideation found in the area and informal themes like solids, voids and volume and basic structural geometry of the block underneath it. It also extends the courtyard and elevates to higher ground- creating an atrium of green. The entrance of Levee features ceramic pools of water lily, sunken gravel lining and stepped boundary along the perimeter. The side facing the river remains sparse to allow local event rent-outs and festivities that are commonly locally held on wide expanses of empty space and decorated with light- the space also doubles as an extension of the interior Coral Rooms and is directly accessible by both it and the kitchen. The forms in the Lily Garden Terrace expand onto the ground level in a manner less restrained and angular to more chaotic and whimsical- adhering to the unpredictable characteristics of nature. The addition of greenery atop the building also allow for respite in the tropical heat and sustains the kitchen with garnish sourcing. 

                                                                                Levee represents Old Dhaka and celebrates its heart and soul.

While the existing site is a testament to architectural royalty, the modern affixing aggrandizes the view and complements the heritage, deriving pattern and character from it while addressing the advancement of the land. These portals of time and space are buffered by intense greenery- soothing the bearer in their constant dialogue with both dimensional differences. The site itself is painted to pearly white, a subtle nod to its fore-bearing competition since its conception, and a statement to revival and embellishment.

Each of the spaces are passionately inspired by all that is alive in its radius, drawing from it their colours, textures, shapes and volumes. In doing so, the rooms embody and alleviate the culture, history and social designs and implore that visitors immerse wholly in it. Special emphasis is applied to the sourcing of the materials- with multiple retailers of timbre, marble, fixtures and ingredients in the immediate vicinity that avail ease of freightage.

Thoughtfully considered, curated and choreographed, the programs come alive with the play of light and shadow, that, aside from the exhibited local artist’s talents, act as a dynamic art- luring emotions and creating mood.

The River Row

The restuarant does more than serve food, it is emblematic of the locale, a testament to how the people flock to the area despite its neighbouring advancements- how good food and good intentions will always attract. It is also a platform for local artists and skillspeople to exhibit and earn deserved recognition for their talents, a site where younger minds are honed into the business of creating bliss on plate and palette. On that note, the colours draw from the warmth of a filled heart and the joy of a filled belly, dressing the space in earthy browns and oranges, contrasted by metallic and dark accents and the life that greenery brings to a space.

The Beli (Jasmine) Suites 

The bedrooms suites stage comfort in the olden setting, combining transitional design that puts the old and the new in conversation. An expanded canvas for art and exhibition of the local skills, the bedrooms offers the employment of more local vendors’ resources ranging from furniture to accessories and uplhostery, all of which are available in wholesale within walking distance. The palette is saturated but light in the spacious room, tinged in requiescence and utility.

The Sheuli (Night-Jasmine) Suites 

The standard bedrooms, more economical than those below, are cantilevered above the cityscape, with unencumbered visual access to the glorious annual kite festival Shakhrain in this older part of the city- an experience that puts the site as a beautiful observation point of all the fireworks and fiesta. Dressed in modest and sober palette, steel Islamic motifs frames the structure so the opulence of the stay is the view.

Coral Room

The Coral Halls, divided by a courtyard in the central block, stretch the height of the existing site at a towering 22feet, and becomes a multipurpose event space, rentable by guests, members and clients for activities and services ranging from workshops to weddings, intimate yet weighty in what it wishes to achieve. The namesake fish is quite the local favourite, and its proximity to the water christens the perfect oppurtunity for a homage to that. The swatches used in the space address both the heritage of the site and honours the modern taste in design.

Portico Pool

The indoor pool would be the first of its kind locally to invite the people to interact with the old architecture on a more personal degree where they get to swim through and under its storied columns. The space celebrates tropical blue that is so characteristic of the summer sky and pairs with saturated and bring dashes and expanses of red, which symbolizes the rising sun. This poetry of colours finds relief in white, black and bronze, emphasized with dark hue of blue on the coves of seating and recline.

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